On Monday, Elizabeth Warren took the plunge, announcing she’s formally launching an exploratory committee for a 2020 run at the White House.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump persisted in what is now a multi-day Twitter rant-a-thon the scope of which is difficult to fathom considering it emanates from a man who doesn’t use drugs and is famous for abstaining from alcohol.
Given Trump’s state of mind, you can be absolutely sure that he’ll renew his public attacks on Warren in the days ahead. ‘Liz will respond, effectively drawing the battle lines for 2020 and further dividing the nation in the process.
Readers invariably have their own opinion of Warren and regulars know we’re generally fans. The problem, though, is that she’s polarizing. Some of that isn’t entirely her fault, but it just is what it is. Her abrasive style is endearing to supporters and her efforts to take Wall Street to task are tireless and entirely laudable. But she’s probably not the candidate who’s going to unite a divided nation or otherwise help to right a ship that is currently charting a course for an iceberg.
A MoveOn.org straw poll conducted earlier this month showed Warren trailing Kamala Harris, Bernie, Biden and Beto.
If you’ve been paying attention at all for the past three months, it is absolutely clear that as right now, only two of those candidates can beat Trump. Beto and Biden.
While we’ve all seen (and reveled in) the jokes about how “any sentient life form” should be able to beat Trump in 2020 considering the fact that somehow, this administration has turned into an even bigger disaster than even the most ardent Trump critics predicted, the sad reality is that as long as the nation remains as divided as it currently is, and as long as some voters are willing to suspend disbelief in the course of remaining steadfast in their support of Trump’s agenda, he’ll be difficult to get rid of.
Trump’s presidency is clearly falling apart and it’s certainly possible that Robert Mueller ultimately drops the hammer/gavel, but we would warn that the generalized numbness to Trump’s antics that began to set in in 2018 is in some ways tantamount to acquiescing to autocracy. There’s a certain fatalism in becoming immune to his rants, tweets and generally despotic behavior. Yes, the media continues to pound him, but he’s pacified countless public servants, turned the GOP into a personality cult and demoralized two decorated generals who have chosen to resign rather than keep fighting. Meanwhile, the fanaticism of his base remains.
Large swaths of the American electorate have a deeply-ingrained hatred for anything that smacks of socialism and Trump has done his absolute best to paint Democrats with the Venezuela brush. That effectively means Sanders has no hope of convincing voters who are already inclined to despise his agenda to change their minds.
Biden could probably win, but the campaign would be couched in terms of absurd pretensions to machismo – it would be cartoonish and has the potential to exacerbate the extent to which American politics has descended into farce. Additionally, Biden comes with baggage that’s potentially exploitable although his track record as a public servant isn’t in dispute.
Beto emerges as the only candidate capable of creating the kind of unstoppable wave – the electoral fervor – that could rival the fanaticism of Trump’s base.
As for Warren, assuming she makes it out of what will obviously be a crowded primary field, it is a virtual guarantee that the campaign to oust Trump would turn dangerously vindictive. I simply cannot imagine a scenario where she is able to maintain her composure in a debate setting where she’s subjected to personal insults while standing right next to Trump. She would be drawn in and while it would doubtlessly be entertaining to watch a woman eviscerate Trump on the biggest stage in the world, that plays right into his (small) hands. You cannot win an insult contest with a man who is willing to stand up at the U.N. General Assembly and call another world leader (murderous dictator though he may be) “Rocket Man” on the way to threatening a nuclear holocaust. In the past two months alone, Trump has called two sitting lawmakers “sh*t” and “dick“, respectively.
More importantly, parts of Warren’s video message to supporters (released on Monday morning) are strikingly similar in tone to Trump’s inaugural address as it relates to America’s middle class.
Obviously, Warren is a champion for minorities and in that respect, she couldn’t be more different from Trump, but do me a favor and watch the video – specifically the rhetoric that starts at the ~1:00 mark:
Got that? Here it is again:
… others who work just as hard slip through the cracks into disaster. What I found is terrifying. These aren’t cracks that families are falling into, they’re traps.
I’m sorry, but no thank you. And not because it’s not true, but rather because it’s couched in the exact same kind of populist rhetoric that got Trump elected and that found expression in his insane “American carnage” inauguration speech.
Compare that to Beto’s famous “Baba O’Riley” air drums.
That’s a better 2020 video than Warren’s and it’s not even a campaign pitch.
The rest of Warren’s video is generally fine, although again, we would gently suggest that it’s too polarizing. The montage of Fox News that features Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity; the clip of Steve Bannon; and on and on. Paradoxically, it accomplishes the exact opposite of what it’s intended to accomplish. It makes anyone who has been duped into believing the Fox narrative or who was enchanted by Bannon’s message feel as though Warren is demonizing them. Obviously she doesn’t mean it that way, but that’s the way it will invariably come across to those voters.
This will not work. At least not if Trump somehow makes it to 2020 without getting himself impeached, indicted or thrown into a mental institution (he’s tweeted six times since I started writing this post).
We’ll close this on an extremely controversial note (one which will at least please Thornton). There are two people who could unequivocally beat Trump in 2020.
One of them is Beto.
The other one is Jamie Dimon.